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How game development has helped me...

Since this week is mental health week I thought I'd write a post about how game development plus exercise has helped me deal with and stabilise my own mental health after a breakup and trying online dating.

Warning: This is a pretty large wall of text.

So, a bit of background on the situation which made me dive full on into my game development. Seemingly out of nowhere my ex-fiancee and I split, at about two to three months before and up to that point, I was looking to move out of my parents home and closer to where I work. She was umming and ahhing on if she would move with me or not, which I was ok with it either way. If she'd wanted to stay with her parents I wasn't going to stop her, like I'd never stop her from doing anything she wanted.

But for some reason that I don't think I'd ever find out, she said she wanted to split up. I was really heartbroken, this was the only person I'd loved outside of my own and her family for those six years. I couldn't grasp what was going on and where it had come from, but it was happening, I couldn't do anything to stop it.

We both decided that we shouldn't talk to each other for a few weeks, which at that point I was a mess and just agreed anyway. A week after that I went away to Vilnius for a tech conference which for probably two of the evenings for the first time a number of years I more or less got blind drunk, I don't usually drink that much and even when I do it was only one or two bottles of cider.

Although what surprised me at the time was how much of a grasp I'd had on what was a massive storm going on in my head. Most of the time for the two I really just wanted to break down and cry and most nights I did it helped a little bit but not as much as I'd liked.

By the time the two weeks was up I'd calmed down, or so I thought. I'd starting speaking to her again which at first was very difficult and somewhat awkward but in my mind it was something.

Then the move came, at that point I was getting pretty stressed out though I don't think it was showing, the move went smoothly thanks to the help of my family and I'd settled and sorted things pretty quickly, but then my birthday came around shortly after and again I'd got blind drunk and had what can only be called a mini mental breakdown. The stress of the breakup, the move, everything seemed like it was getting on top of me and looking back at it now it was.

Looking back at it I can see why and how people can resort to drinking constantly when everything seems to go wrong.

I was really low back then and if it wasn't for the support of my family and my best friends at that point I think I would have succumbed to drinking. I don't think I could thank them enough really, just for listening and being there for me.

It was round about that point I decided to dive into game development on what is currently my largest project, A Way Home. The project itself had come from the fact that I wanted to express my feelings of the past 6 years in a game and to this day that is still the core of the game even though it's currently unfinished.

As I'd finished the original designs on how I wanted everything to work in the game I noticed that I was starting to process everything that had gone on over the past 3-4 months, after that I'd moved on to start developing the first prototypes for it.

This alleviated part of the depression that I'd felt, I think because I enjoy coding and game development so much it helped me much more that talking about it would have. It was very therapeutic if I'm honest I was doing something I enjoyed, that I loved even and I felt great about myself so I decided to try online dating.

Yeah, what a mistake that was...

Online dating made me realise two key things about myself.

1) I didn't know how to talk to people I didn't know. Like how to initiate convocations without sounding awkward.

2) My lack of self-confidence showed when the people I was talking to just suddenly stopped talking to me, naturally, I immediately jumped to the fact because I was (and still am) on the larger side in terms of my body, along with being pretty nerdy that I was putting people off.

I still carried on for a while after realising that but I had the same results and it just dragged me further and further down. After a while, I'd decided to just give it up for a while. With that, I focused on myself instead, so I carried on with the game development but I also started going out walking thanks to the advice on social media.

It was kind of difficult at first to find the motivation to go out walking, but soon enough I was doing it most days. Which has helped reduce the stress to very little, even more so since I'd started to work up a bit of sweat whilst doing it. It's also helped bring up my self-confidence by seeing that actually, I am getting thinner and fitter.

Don't get me wrong, I still have that small part of me in my head that stresses about my love life. Especially since a family member of my ex decided to approach one of my best friends and make me out to be a sexual predator, which luckily enough she's known me long enough 13+ years to know that it's not true. But that's caused me to be even more cautious around other people (especially women) I don't know. But I'm working on that as well, I think it ties in with how I see myself.

If there's one thing I've learnt from all this, it's if you do something you enjoy it can help, along with bettering yourself both in body and mind.

I hope this helps someone in some way, even if it's just something small.

~ Luke